Latter-day Saint Missionary Flu Shots are Voluntary, not Mandatory

This is a letter from a mission doctor of a foreign (not US) mission, written in 2019, to a missionary, after the missionary refused a flu shot.

Attached is your electronic signed Missionary Application.  As you can see, you agreed to receive vaccinations. Attached also are two policies concerning vaccinations.  IT states that although receiving a vaccination is a personal decision, all missionaries should be encouraged to receive an annual flu vaccination. In other words, an annual influenza immunization is recommended.  This policy was approved April 2018.  

A second policy states Immunizations are not a requirement for missionary service, but young or senior missionaries who decline or are unable to receive immunizations will serve in their home countries.  Influenzas is one of the vaccines but a personal exemption is not listed. This policy was approved December 2018.  As I understand it the latest  policy became the guiding rule.  If I am wrong, my apologies.

I still respect your right to choose.   I will still help you medically any time and any place.  I do not harbor any ill feelings. Best of everything to you future missionary work.

[Mission Doctor]

The mother and missionary requested further clarification on the flu shot from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Missionary Department. Here is that communication.

From: Randall James Ryser 

Date: Thu, Apr 18, 2019 at 6:08 PM

Subject: ______ and Flu vaccination


Sister ______,

For good reasons, the missionary department strongly recommends that missionaries receive the influenza vaccine in the appropriate season for the part of the world in which they are serving. 

My experience in the missionary department and my understanding of the missionary medical policy is that the influenza vaccination is strongly recommended, but not mandatory as a condition for continuing missionary service. A prior adverse reaction would be a reason not to receive that vaccine again.

The church policy for influenza vaccination is attached. 

Randall Ryser

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